ROBERT Mugabe’s widow Grace and two of his sons Robert Jnr and Chatunga face the prospect of being prosecuted for corruption following the death of the 95-year old former president this morning in Singapore.
Grace Mugabe, 55, popularly known as Gucci Grace for her fondness for luxury shopping, enjoyed a lavish lifestyle in a desperately impoverished country. She had been given immunity along with her husband by Zimbabwe’s military authorities in November 2017 but current president Emmerson Mnangagwa revealed in January 2018 that he had not granted either of them immunity, although they would be left in peace.
President Mnangagwa said his predecessor got a lucrative’ retirement package but now that President Mugabe has passed on, the authorities may decide to revisit his 37-year rule. In March 2018, police began investigating claims Grace fronted a poaching and smuggling syndicate which illegally exported elephant tusks, gold and diamonds.
She has not been charged over the allegations but Mr Mnangagwa sanctioned the probe after Australian photographer Adrian Steirn uncovered what was described as very strong evidence. Mr Steirn spent four months investigating wildlife trafficking and posed as a customer for contraband ivory to infiltrate the illegal poaching network.
He filmed sources claiming Grace smuggled ivory poached in national parks out of Zimbabwe by exploiting her airport security screening exemption as first lady. Then in December last year, South African prosecutors issued an arrest warrant for her for allegedly assaulting a model in Johannesburg in 2017.
Grace, a brash and divisive figure whose party faction eventually lost out in a power struggle with supporters of Mr Mnangagwa, is widely disliked by her poli8tical opponents. She was President Mugabe’s second wife having married him in 1996, bearing him two sons and a daughter.
In November 2017, President Mugabe’s son Chatunga was pictured on social media appearing to pour a £200 bottle of champagne over a watch which he claimed was worth £45,000. Chatunga and his brother Robert Jnr gained a reputation for their playboy lifestyle, and were evicted from a flat in South Africa in 2017 after it was damaged in a party.
Robert Jr had dreams of a basketball career but US sanctions meant he could not play in America, so he launched a clothing label in December 2017 called xGx. Like Grace, the president’s sons were seen as insensitive to the plight of ordinary Zimbabweans, as they were find of buying rare diamond jewellery and Rolls-Royce limousines.
Grace owns vast tracks of land in Mazowe, some 20 miles north east of Harare and is also believed to own houses in South Africa, Dubai and Singapore. In December last year, it emerged that that Grace, whose property portfolio is worth more than £50m, had not paid her farm workers for three months.
In August 2017, Grace was accused of beating up a young South African model who was partying with her sons in Johannesburg. According to Gabriella Engels, Grace burst into a hotel room where she was talking with friends and whipped her with an electric cable as bodyguards looked on.
Grace said she acted in self-defence after Engels tried to stab her with a knife but after hearing the case, in December 2018, South African prosecutors issued an arrest warrant for Mrs Mugabe. Mr Mnangagwa and his aides even accused Grace of trying to poison him with ice cream from her dairy farm in 2017, which she denied.
In 2014, when it appeared former vice president Joyce Mujuru was in line to succeed President Mugabe, he fired her following public rallies at which Grace derided Ms Majuru. She then used her political platform to take on Mr Mnangagwa and famously said at one rally: “They say I want to be president. Why not? Am I not a Zimbabwean?”